Wednesday, April 15, 2009

thinking about thinking- long and rambling, forgive me.

yesterday we were able to attend a training on teaching with Thinkblocks. i have to admit, in 48 hours i've become obsessed. i'd heard rumblings about it from teachers at my school who had already been trained, but i still didn't quite see what the fuss was about. not overly thrilled to be attending a session the second day back from break, but, well, always have an open mind, right?

it was awesome.

i tried to explain it to a coworker who didn't attend the training and i failed, so i'm not sure what kind of a job i can do here. but the fundamentals behind it are based on brain research about how we, as humans, think. the research shows four fundamental patterns of human thought- distinctions, relationships, systems, and perspectives. although they go into depth about all of this (i felt like i was in a college philosophy class but also dabbling in the movie i heart huckabee as we discussed whether or not a table was really a table and how language is merely shorthand for the thoughts in our brain). they gave us guiding questions for each of the four categories and discussed many ways we can teach children to think in these patterns.

(i love, LOVE that all of this research is actually turning into practical implications in the classroom. with the push for everything to be research based i feel like that doesn't mean very much most of the time. but this started with new information on the brain and decided to look at how it could be used to help kids)

i'd heard this all before actually, at the training i've previously blogged about. however, they were way off in their implementation of these theories and with their methods none of it really made sense. it just wasn't applicable or realistic.

this was different. they introduced blocks they've developed to help facilitate teaching children to think with these questions. (i love that they opened with the fact that you didn't need the blocks to teach the patterns of thinking, and that you really could do without them. the blocks are just there to help).

as someone who defended her thesis while destroying a paperclip in her hands under the table, i know i am a very kinesethetic person, and know that holding something tangible in my hands helps me learn. so i immediately went and tracked down the blocks to play with today.

and really, it was just playing. i tried little lessons with different friends but i think more than anything we enjoyed holding them, manipulating them, and enjoying the satisfying "clunk" when you drop a small one into the bigger one and say, "mom is a part of T's family". then taking the blocks out, lining them out, and counting them, only to drop them back in again.

today i used them with one student with emotional disabilities, one student with learning disabilities, and two students with autism. with the student with emotional disabilities we discussed the parts of the family (wholes/parts is a part of the system pattern of thinking). with the student with learning disabilities we used the blocks to look at how she and her twin sister are related (relationships pattern). with one student with autism we retold the parts of knuffle bunny. i realize none of this makes any sense if you haven't seen the blocks first. and i'm sorry. i'm still processing this all myself and hope that i'll be able to slow my mind down enough to really explain it all soon.

i found my fingers itching for the blocks during lessons when i hadn't thought i'd use them. to introduce a concept in guided reading, to have a student retell a story, to review the rules in line. and in my long afternoon meeting when we were discussing a student and how we may find him eligible for special education services, i wanted to pull them out and use them to analyze the little one.

i can see that i'm going to need to find a better way to transport them so i'll have them with me at all times.

splattypus blogged that i'd be able to write more about the training. i wrote a lot, but know that none of it made sense. i appologize, and direct you to her for a better imagine of what i'm trying to say.


Snippety Gibbet said...

This all sounds so intriguing. I wonder if I'll get the training for this. I hope so.

organized chaos said...

You should ask for it! We kept thinking about how powerful this could be with other people in the building like if our guidance couselors were trained. I think you could do SO much with it. Actually, I'm getting excited just thinking about what you could do with it. Yes, you have to get trained! There is a training on the 28th- you should ask to go!

Anonymous said...

Yes! The Patterns of Thinking is so exciting - imagine helping children to construct their knowledge and for teachers to have a little window into seeing "how" their children are thinking. Keep playing and follow the ThinkWorks thinking blog!

BTW - I loved hearing about your kindergartner who took notes and was proud of the learning process!

Jules said...

It's great to see teachers so excited about the patterns of thinking! Be sure to let us know when you blog about implementing this in your classroom, and we'll link to you in our blog (besides that, we also just love hearing from teachers!).

Charissa said...

I was curious, so I watched the video about these blocks, and I am facinated. Now I have to get myself some. I am such a visual learner, and I keep thinking about the ways they would help me sort out the different methods to calculate equity valuations or steps to tearing apart financial statements. Can non-educators obtain these things somewhere?

Your Teacher said...

OK, I know I've commented a bunch but I have to add my two cents that I looked up the ThinkBlocks website after visiting your school, emailed a staff member who I recognized as also being a parent at my school here in Ithaca, NY (woo!) and got to attend a workshop on it today. I also got really excited about them and totally clicked with Greg who I can tell will be a great sounding board for bouncing implementation ideas off of. I can't wait to try them out in my class!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.